I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Today I think about the palaces of the fans known as ballparks to some – baseball stadiums to others.
Ballparks are those places creating a special feeling when hearing the wooden bat hit the ball followed by the roar of a cheering crowd rising to their feet – a bonding moment not only between people and the game, but also between people.
Ballparks are the cathedrals of baseball where people gather to worship with faith and allegiance for their team and yell praise to their cleated heroes. Ballparks are a place where memories are made to be told to the next generation.
I think of places before my time: Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans, Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl, Cleveland’s League Park, and Washington’s Griffith Stadium.
Many may not remember Los Angeles having a Wrigley Field. Not only the first and one-year home of the Los Angeles Angels, but also the location to television’s Home Run Derby.
There are the classic stadiums of my youth – Forbes Field (Pittsburgh), Connie Mack Stadium (Philadelphia) – previously known as Shibe Park – Sportsman’s Park (St. Louis), Polo Grounds (New York), cavernous Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Crosley Field (Cincinnati), and others.
All places with their own quirks – yet, places of lore – but these are now gone. Places that may or may not have a sign or plaque commemorating its existence. Places that may be a playground, an apartment complex, a shopping area, a group of office buildings, or something for industry.
Let us not forget Boston’s Braves Field for much of it still stands. Not for baseball, but as a football field for Boston University – today known as Nickerson Field. An old ticket booth remains as a tribute to its past. One can sit in the stands imagining Spahn and Sain, then praying for rain – or slugger Eddie Mathews and other greats who played on this field.
A few teams played in temporary facilities as they waited for their new home – Houston’s mosquito-infested Colt 45 Stadium, Montreal’s quaint Jarry Park, and the Dodgers playing is a make-shift for baseball layout of massive LA Coliseum, which included a temporary high left field fence that made Moon Shots famous.
These ballparks gave way to the circular masses of concrete and steel known as multi-purposes stadiums that hosted baseball and football. Fortunately, most of them had shorter life spans than their predecessors. Not only is Atlanta’s multi-purpose stadium gone, so is it’s replacement.
The current generation of ballparks try to emulate the feel of those ballparks of long ago, but with modern conveniences and design. Yes, New York’s Yankee Stadium still exists, but it is not The House that Ruth Built – yet the city and franchise honors the original location.
For fans of baseball history, fortunately Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field stand of iconic tributes to the past. One has to wonder how long they will last – but for now, there is no end in sight … and for some of us, that’s a good thing.
No matter if in the old, new, or bygone, ballparks are places where vivid memories are made to be recalled – places where one can close their eyes and recall a past moment – a past hero – a past place as Ebbets or Crosley that stand no more, yet occupies a special place in the minds and hearts of their fans.
Ballparks are a special place – but so are beaches because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.